Written by Dave Cullen
The idea of asking for a salary increase from your employer can fill you with feelings of dread and considerable apprehension. In these uncertain times, employers are forced to continue to cut labour costs, downsize, outsource and replace permanent roles with short-term project contracts. So when we begin thinking about salary negotiation we immediately ask ourselves: What if they say no? What if they become angry? What if they decide they no longer wish to keep me?
The first thing to remember is that it’s perfectly natural to ask these questions, try not to panic. Employers are also acutely aware that retaining the best talent is a top priority, if they value you as a resource, they will want to hold on to you, asking for more money is not going to change that. Although they may not be impressed if you insult them by asking for an absurd amount like €100,000 for an entry-level position.
Conduct market research: The first step in negotiating a pay raise is to conduct some research. Find out what the average pay rate is for your position. If you discover that you are already receiving an above average salary for the work that you do, then it is unlikely you will receive an increase. Additionally, if you have a figure in mind, it is also prudent to calculate exactly what your net pay will be prior to meeting with your boss.
Consult the Employee handbook: If your company has an agreed policy for approving pay raises, then it would be best practice to follow this. For budgetary reasons it is not uncommon for many employers to restrict salary reviews to a specific period once per year.
Sell yourself: Make a list of your accomplishments and contributions during your time with the company, including such information as, how you may have helped to reduce costs, improve productivity, achieved important projects and gone above and beyond the remit of your responsibilities. Keeping a comprehensive record of your successes may help justify your salary increase. It is important to stress that successfully negotiating improved compensation will never be based on your personal financial needs and wants but rather on your achievements.
Never use another offer as leverage: Telling your employer that you are currently considering another offer with a more lucrative remuneration package is a sure fire way to ruin your chances of getting a raise. This behaviour will be perceived as disloyal and unprofessional. Giving your boss an ultimatum by threatening to leave for greener pastures unless they increase your salary could seriously damage your relationship with them.
Alternative benefits: In the event that your employer is unable to improve your salary, you may be offered alternatives to increased monetary reimbursement, such as more flexible working hours. They may also be willing to provide you with additional days of annual leave.
It is unlikely that your supervisor will give you an immediate answer to your request, not only because it will no doubt require careful consideration, but also because they may not be authorised to approve a salary increase.
No matter what the outcome, it is most important to remember that you will give yourself the best possible chance for success if you are well prepared for the negotiating process. This can only be achieved by researching the market rate for your role, knowing the company policy and recording your achievements and contributions within the company.